AUBURN HILLS – Stan Van Gundy got to see his first-choice lineup on the floor Thursday night – the one that he’s spent the last 15 months building.
Things couldn’t have gone much worse.
“I thought our defense was mediocre and our offense was far below mediocre,” a disgusted Van Gundy said after a 93-83 loss to Brooklyn. “We deserved to lose.”
With Reggie Jackson back after missing the preseason opener against Indiana, the Pistons had the group that they expect to help end their long playoff drought. They used 10 players in the game, all playing the kind of minutes they can expect to see in the regular season, but it didn’t work.
The Pistons turned the ball over 22 times, including 18 in the first half, shot 41 percent, made 31.8 percent on three-pointers and only got to the free throw line 11 times.
“We were incredibly selfish,” Van Gundy said. “All anyone did was look for their own shots. They would have guys open, but they would take two more dribbles to get something for themselves, and by that point the passing lanes would have closed. So all we got were forced shots and bad passes.”
If not for 11 offensive rebounds – nine by Andre Drummond and Ersan Ilyasova – the Pistons would’ve lost by a lot more than 10 points.
“We’re all going to have to look in the mirror and figure out how to get this done,” said Jackson, who finished with seven points, six assists and six turnovers in 29 minutes. “We lacked effort, and we can’t continue to do that. We’ve got to come together and figure out how to play the game.”
Van Gundy wouldn’t have minded if Jackson’s problem had come from rustiness – he had missed practice with a sore Achilles tendon – but he wasn’t impressed with the way he played.
“Reggie was not at all good tonight,” Van Gundy said. “He was forcing everything instead of playing the way we need him to play.”
Jackson wasn’t about to argue with his grouchy coach.
“We had 18 turnovers in the first half, and I had a lot of them,” he said. “I’ve got to be better than that. It’s nice that this was a preseason game, so it won’t count against us, but we can’t keep playing this way. I wish we could just pretend this game never happened, but I know Coach is going to make us watch the films. That’s not going to be fun.”
Van Gundy wasn’t any happier with his franchise player, Andre Drummond. He struggled badly against Brook Lopez, although he finished strong.
“I didn’t think Andre had any energy, and I didn’t think he worked on defense,” Van Gundy said. “He was a little better in the second half, but not good. If you want me to give you positives from this game, Ersan’s third quarter was good, and Spencer (Dinwiddie) did some nice things in the second half.
“I don’t think I could come up with a third.”
It was vintage Van Gundy – he’s never shied away from ripping his players to the media, just like he will not hesitate to say they played great games when he’s pleased with them.
So Thursday night’s debacle doesn’t mean that he’s given up hope on his new lineup, but he did end his postgame press conference with one more message for the roster.
“Tonight, Brooklyn played basketball exactly the way you are supposed to play it.
“We were the exact opposite of that.”